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Review: Agnes Obel

AGNES Obel is a classically trained pianist and singer from Copenhagen, now based in Berlin. Her debut album 'Philharmonics' attracted glowing reviews on its release last autumn and has become something of a word-of-mouth success since.

Tonight she's joined by German cellist Anne Muller and the pair demonstrate just why piano and cello work so beautifully together. Muller also provides vocal backing to Obel's gentle, but arresting singing.

Right from the off, it feels like one of those rare concerts to live long in the memory. A hushed silence greets 'Just So' -- a song made popular on the continent thanks to its ubiquity on a mobile phone TV commercial -- and there's a haunting quality to the sparse, understated instrumental 'Louretta', in which Obel truly shows her gifts as a pianist.

There is a sublime cover of John Cale's 'Close Watch', which ends in flamboyant style as Obel channels her inner Kate Bush. And 'Riverside' -- perhaps her most commercial sounding song to date -- is spine-tingling in its sweet simplicity.

Then, there's a glimpse into the future as Obel airs a new composition: "It's so new it's still called 'New Song'." It also sounds remarkable with its crystal-clear vocals and plaintive instrumentation.

The night concludes as powerfully as it began with a riveting rendition of the ancient Scottish ballad, 'Katie Cruel' -- a song brought to wider prominence in the early 1970s by the late American singer-songwriter, Karen Dalton.

The whole performance clocks in at around the 70-minute mark, yet there's no feeling of being short-changed. A charming, hugely engaging performer, you find yourself hanging on every word and note. One of the gigs of the year, no question.

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